February 11, 2009

Dave's Unspoilt Capsules and Awards

The Week's Picks and Pans, plus Awards of Dubious Merit

Standard Disclaimers: Please set appropriate followups.  Recommendation does
not factor in price.  Not all books will have arrived in your area this week.
Wow, Diamond is really sucking htis year.  An archive can be found on my 
             homepage, http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants 

"Other Media" Capsules:

     Things that are comics-related but not necessarily comics
(i.e. comics-based movies like Iron Man or Hulk), or that aren't going to be
available via comic shops (like comic pack-ins with DVDs) will go in this
section when I have any to mention.  They may not be as timely as comic
reviews, especially if I decide to review novels that take me a week or two
(or ten) to get around to.

     Marvel Crossovers Transformers Wave 3: It's a long file, just go to
http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/BW/Marvel/Standard3 to check it out.  Not a
good wave, though.  War Machine-ish Iron Man redeco is nice but not nice
enough to drop $16 or so on when I have the original.  Carnage redeco of
Venom is skippable.  Thor is outright bad.  Captain America could have been
so much better, but they cheaped out in several places.

Comics Capsules:
     Short, relatively spoiler-free reviews of books I actually bring home
(as opposed to reading in preview form in the shop or online).  If I get a
book late due to distributor foulups or whatever, I'll put it in the Missing

     Books of Note (Strongly Recommended or otherwise worthy): None.

     BLiNK MiniSpecial: Onward Studios - Back in the later years of my grad
school career (hey, at 8 years it's lasted longer than any other position
I've had, that makes it a career) I got comics at a shop named Laughing Ogre
(which still exists).  One of the cooler aspects of the place, aside from the
actual lighting and space and so forth, was the mini-comics rack.  You may
ask what a mini-comic is.  Well, before people used webcomics to try to break
into a regular comics job, one way to get your work out was to make little
1/4-sheet-sized or half-sheet-sized mini-comics at the copy shop, staple them
together, and sell them for a buck or two at conventions and so forth.  The
Ogre's owner was pretty good at keeping an eye on the mini-comics he stocked
and steering customers towards ones he thought they might like, plus I'd
generally pick up a few at Mid-Ohio Con each year.  There were three titles
that I got enough of to count as "collecting": Army Ants, Amy Unbounded and
Amoeba Adventures.  Army Ants spawned a small press RPG, Amy Unbounded
managed a print collection and a flipbook with Galaxion before becoming a
webcomic for a while, but both were essentially single-creator works.
Amoeba Adventures was notable for the fact that creator Nik Dirga actually
brought in a separate artist, name of Max Ink.
     And that brings us to this mini-comic, written and drawn by Max Ink as a
convention giveaway to promote the regular comic (and the strip done in the
Short North Gazette, a weekly in one of the more bohemian parts of Columbus
OH).  Titled "FYI, IDK," it's a slice of life bit as the book's main trio
(well, from the text piece at the end I presume this is the main trio)
working out an argument Max has with himself over the benefits of online
society, such as it is.  Hank is pro-tech, Sam is an "I'm not a Luddite"
Luddite, while the title character Blink sees both sides of the argument but
spends most of the story drawing.  The text piece suggests Max is closer to
Sam's side of the argument, which makes it particularly ironic that we got
back in touch after several years of no contact via Facebook.  :)
     Artistically, he's grown in the time since Amoeba Adventures, losing the
sometimes scratchy and uncertain quality his art used to have and developing
a nice "cartoony-real" style with solid physical underpinnings in terms of
pose and camera angle.  The backgrounds are a mix of fills, tones, scanned
photographs and line shading that feels like he's deliberately cycling
through all his backgrounds, but it's not intrusive.  As for the story, it
doesn't rise much above the "I'm having my characters work out an argument
I've been having with myself" level, but at ten tiny pages it'd be a mistake
to try to push too much plot in.  http://www.onwardstudio.com has a link to
get a free copy if you're interested in checking Max's work out and aren't
lucky enough to get to go to Mid-Ohio Con.  Recommended.

     Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen #4 (of 5): Oni Press - The lead story by
Layman & Peyer involves Ket Jansen, the evil universe duplicate, and a
running fight for most of the issue.  The flipbook story by Massey is
something of a shaggy dog tale.  Both are drawn by Robbi Rodriguez.  Neither
story really grabbed me, or felt like it captured the feel of the short
animation pieces.  Nice space dino on the flip cover, though.  Mildly
recommended.  $3.99
     Green Arrow and Black Canary #17: DC - The lead story involves Psycho
Stalker Lass upping the ante in her plan to get Green Arrow's love.
Creeeeepy.  There's also an Origins & Omens backup that shows an angst source
for Dinah (if this is a new retcon, it's ripping off Rogue) and then does all
sorts of omens foreshadowing.  The sort of thing that would have gone in a DC
Sampler back in the 80s.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99
     Avengers/Invaders #8 (of 12): Marvel - Act 2 wraps up as all the main
threats are conveniently wrapped up, a golden age character gets yet another
origins retcon, and Someone Does Something Stupid So That Act Three Can
Happen.  It had some good moments, but mostly felt like Ross and Kreuger were
bored with the plot and wanted to move on.  Mildly recommended.  $2.99
     New Warriors #20: Marvel - Final Issue, so Grevioux has to put his
pieces back in the box so other writers can use them (as some already have).
The art is by several people, and it shows.  The story, at least, doesn't
feel like it was cut short, but the "oh well, guess it didn't work out"
ending was less than satisfying.  Neutral.  $3.99
     Thor #600: Marvel - And another rebooted title regains the "original"
numbering (will we ever actually see a Thor #82?), as has been the schtick
for Marvel the past few years as rebooted titles reach multiples of 100.
This one has a double-sized main story, some short new pieces (including one
written by Stan Lee), some "Tales of Asgard" reprints and a gallery of
Journey Into Mystery and Thor covers (all 600) for the five bucks.  It amuses
me that in reading the Marvel Index from last week, I was seeing #100 issues
that were just regular-length stories, no special size or anything.  :)  The
main story is mostly a big thumpfest, serving Loki's purposes and triggering
a "Silver Age in a bad way" plot device.  Lee's story is...bad.  Giarrusso's
Mini Marvels retelling of Thor #1-12 and surrounding events is pretty good,
though.  Recommended.  $4.99
     The Amazing Spider-Man #586: Marvel - The Pentium issue!  ;) Or, more
seriously, the all-Menace issue, with Spider-Man only appearing in flashbacks
(hence the banner at the top of the cover calling this an "interlude" in the
Character Assassination arc).  The whole ball of wax is spelled out, and
while Guggenheim has the players acting a bit too extremely (i.e. almost like
parodies of their previous characterizations), it generally works.
Recommended.  $2.99
     The Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe #23: Antarctic Press -
No, Diamond never did cough up #22.  This oen wraps up the last of the
"realms and dimensions" stuff with T'uala, U'duen, X'anadu...er, Xanadu and
Yl'dahjim.  Then there's a world map showing the locations of various Earth-
based stuff, and entries on Agency Zero sites and points of interest in
Atlanta, Miami, NYC, Norfolk...and Quagmire.  The Quagmire section is kinda a
mini-handbook of those elements of Ninja High School that are necessary to
know in order to follow Gold Digger stories, and not much else.
Recommended.  $3.95/$3.95Cn
     Gold Digger Tech Manual #1: Antarctic Press - This issue covers tech
used by Ace and the Amarans.  This...is gonna be a long series.  Gina Diggers
alone will probably need six issues at this pace.  Yay!  Ace has the lion's
share, since there's loads of both real world and SFnal vehicles that he
uses.  This is written "in character" as notes by Gina Diggers, which comes
with plusses and minuses.  On the good side, being written (by Perry and
Dlin) in Gina's voice avoids some of the dryness that a standard tech manual
might fall prey to.  On the bad side, being done wholly IC means that there's
no meta information, such as issue numbers of significant appearances.  The
entries do talk about stories where the tech was used, but you kinda have to
dig through other references to match that to issue numbers.  Visually, loads
of good reference material on both the real and unreal tech.  Recommended.
     Gold Digger v3 #102: Antarctic Press - A couple more of the new
characters get the focus this issue, fighting a newly-unearthed ancient
doohickey that somehow ties into the Mysterious Entity acting behind the
scenes last issue.  The events shown on the cover don't really enter into
things, sadly.  The plot's building somewhat slowly, but there's good bits
along the way.  Recommended.  $2.99 US&Cn
     Comic Book Comics #3: Evil Twin Comics - Time drifts a bit as Van Lente
and Dunleavy follow thematic threads and biographical chunks.  The first
thread, the cover story, is how Wertham caused the rise of the Comics Code
and the abetted the fall of comics in the 1950s.  It's one of the more
sympathetic portrayals you'll find of Wertham in a product aimed at comics
fans, by the way.  The next chunk covers how Pop Art appropriated comics
(among other grist for its mill) and gets as far as Adam West's Batman
series.  The last chunk is a bit less tightly thematic, wending through a few
different threads tied together by the rise of comics fandom.  Robert Crumb's
early experiences segue into how fandom helped launch the Silver Age
reimaginings which in turn laid the groundwork for the return of Kirby (who
pops up every so often for a panel or two through the issue) and the
beginning of the Marvel Age of comics.  Recommended.  $3.95

Gone Missing:

     Stuff that came out some places this week and that I wanted to buy, but
couldn't find for whatever reason, so people don't have to email me asking
"Why didn't you review X?"  (If it's neither here nor in the section above,
though, feel free to ask, I might have forgotten about it!) 

     Current list as of 2/11/09: Official Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe
#22, Transformers Maximum Dinobots #1 and 2, Transformers Revenge of the
Fallen: Alliance #1 and 2, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen: Defiance #1,
Adventure #0, Jersey Gods #1.  Add Booster Gold #17, REBELS #1, Gen13 v4
#27.  At eleven books, that's more missing books than I get in an average


"Mind You, There's Plenty Of Parts Of Columbus I DON'T Miss" Award to 
     BLiNK MiniSpecial

"At Least There Wasn't A Dog In The Room Too" Award to Tek Jansen #4 (of 5)

"Rainbow Raider Could Tell Ya That Experimental Sensory Replacement Devices
     ALWAYS Come With Bonus Powers" Award to Green Arrow and Black Canary #17

"D'Jobbed" Award to Avengers/Invaders #8 (of 12)

"Helmets Work Better When On Your Head" Award to New Warriors #20

"Oklahoma Apparently Makes Just About ANYWHERE ELSE Look Good" Award to 
     Thor #600

"I Don't Think Marvel Could Even IMPLY That Honeymoon In A Rated A Book"
     Award to The Amazing Spider-Man #586

"So, Why Did I Think Quagmire Was In California?" Award to The Official 
     Handbook of the Gold Digger Universe #23

"Rabbit-Tech Warriors" Award to Gold Digger Tech Manual #1

"Three Puns Align, Pour Forth Your Blight, And Fill The Reader's Mind With
     Fright" Award to Gold Digger v3 #102

"But **** ONE Goat..." Award to Comic Book Comics #3 (specifically, to Dr.
     Frederic Wertham)

     Dave Van Domelen, "Look, we've been dating a while and I've come to
EXPECT it, but -- even by those standards -- there's a lot of whining in
here." - Lily Hollister to Harry Osborn on the contents of his diary, The
Amazing Spider-Man #586
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